The Happy Dance

I wish I were a computer geek.  Should have studied more about computers, programs and how they work.  Then it would have been oh so easy.

We purchased what is known as an “icom 802”  SSB (single side band radio).   Because you own a boat this automatically means that everything and I mean everything is priced 4 to 5 times higher than other marine radios.

The investment into this particular SSB was in our view point worth the price.  This radio would give us the ability to communicate potentially anywhere around the world.  Those with a Ham radio license can do just that.  Even without a license there are numerous stations available to connect with.  The main feature is the ability to take your laptop computer, connect it to a special modem and then the modem talks to the radio.  This allows you to send/receive email, send/receive weather reports via the radio.

It is the weather reporting that is critical.  Once signed up with the program provider – Sailmail – you may then send a weather request for any region in the world.  They will provide a detailed map of wind, pressure systems etc. for the requested area and will provide it for the next 24 hours up to 72 hours.  This allows you to see advancing weather systems.  Amazing!

The initial installation was quite complicated and the Captain as far as could be determined did everything as required.  We had a very good book to follow by Terry Sparks and he had provided check lists – which I made sure we followed, even the Captain made no attempt to overrule me on that one.

Next came the testing of the system.  The Sailmail program provided excellent instructions on setting up the computer to talk to the modem and then setting up the modem to talk to the radio.  Mind you their opening paragraph went something like this:  you can try and work your way through all of this or hire an expert to do the job. If you still want to do it on your own then go ahead and read the following.

Well I am dead in the water I thought.  I know absolutely nothing about the secret underworld of a computer, let alone the modem and radio.  I printed off all their instructions, even instructions if you are not able to get a connection.  Over the past two months I would read these instructions, trying to make sense of the process.  Kill me now!

Finally, I had to begin the process of getting the computer/modem/radio to talk to each other.  Before we left at the end of June I had attempted on several occasions to do even the most basic application such as “connect” to another station – absolutely no success.   I felt disheartened,  overwhelmed with the feeling of being in way over my head and not knowing what to do.  The clock was ticking and I finally thought we will have to wait until we reach San Diego and see about hiring a technician to show me what to do.

Once we were on our way north to Campbell River I decided to begin from scratch and went over every single instruction, word by word.  Finally, it was one line that stood out – “check to make sure the ports assigned on your computer match the modem”.

And there it was!  A simple but important piece of the puzzle.

In no time at all I had determined how to request a weather file, select the best station to send the request to and then connect.

These words came on the computer screen:  Welcome to SailMail

The connection did not happen immediately, it took another few tries of selecting the correct frequency but eventually everything did connect and we received back our first weather report.

We did the Happy Dance!



Daily Log

July 17

We are anchored in a small bay in Haida Gwaii, formerly known as the Queen Charlottes.  This morning Orcas came into the bay, which really took us by surprise as it is very shallow in most of the area. The tide was high and they knew what they were doing.  Very methodical, going up one side of the bay, around a small island and then back out to sea.  Later, when we kayaked to shore we saw a seal pop its head up, no doubt what the Orcas had been hunting for.

The Captain had determined that we would be able to hike to a small lake not far up into the mountains.  It was not a far distance but it meant bush whacking through brush, climbing over fallen trees, getting our feet wet, slipping in mud and scrambling over rocks.  Basic hiking.

It was a beautiful private lake.  We had thought it would be the ideal place to wash but the lake was cold, not enough sun over the last while to even warm the edges.  The small flies were such a nuisance and my forehead looks like Frankenstein’s from the bites.  Captain has nary a bite on him, too salty for their taste I would guess.

By the time we wound our way back down I was tired and I am sure the Captain was too, for he carried the back pack and it was heavy with rope in case it was needed.

It was a gorgeous day and a peaceful evening.

Pinch me.


July 18

Another sun filled day.  We did some more hiking, to another lake nearby.  Flies not as vicious this time but they did find new parts of me to consume.  Once again, a private lake all to ourselves.  Water remained cold but this time we did take the time to wash off.  We have been at the same bay for three days now, I was amazed the time had gone by so quickly.


July 19

Both of us were awake at 0200 and got up to look at the stars.  What a show.  The Milky Way was on display, something I have not seen in over 20 years.

When I first moved to Vancouver Island my son and I would go down to Island View Beach out on the Peninsula and have a camp fire (the good old days).  I remember looking up and with amazement realized that I was looking at the Milky Way.  I had always lived in urban areas so had never until that moment observed what the night sky truly looked like.  Spectacularly crowded!

No hiking today.  We moved onto another secluded bay.

I did some housekeeping and washed some clothing, the Jack Lines are also excellent drying lines.

Tomorrow we will hike to more lakes.

The mosquitos are salivating.





Batten Down the Hatches

We went through some quite choppy waters prior to reaching Helmcken Island.  As I learned from last year’s adventures going to Alaska, have everything secured before setting sail.

Still I found myself racing back and forth inside, securing the port lights (windows), when the Captain yells down – “close the forward hatch”!

We have hatches?

There are two hatches, one forward over the v-berth (where we sleep) and one mid ship, both are covered with kayaks and a dinghy.  I completely forgot about them.  Fortunately, I had not placed the computer, phones and tablets on top of the bed yet.  I went running or more like taking one giant step, wait, then another giant step as the boat was rocking and rolling.

Funny what goes through your mind, at least mine anyway.   As I was taking those giant steps I thought of the game we played as children.  What Time is It Mister Wolf?  The wolf would command us to take one giant step forward, eventually one of us would be close enough to be captured and then be eaten. Bet Freud would have a great time analyzing that one.

Oh! No!  a huge puddle of water was in the middle of the bed.  Then I realized that it was on top of the thick sleeping bag, saved!  I gathered it up quickly before it soaked through to the rest of the bedding.

In the middle of all this the Captains cell phone rang. What the heck, when all hell is breaking lose why not have others join in on the fun.   It was our friend Doug.  I told Doug what happened to the sleeping bag and he just laughed and said get used to salt water sheets.

No way man!

He kept laughing, which made me laugh.

Perspective, it all comes down to perspective.





UTC Time



Most of us live every waking moment tied to time.  When to get up, go to sleep, appointments to keep, be to work “on time” and waiting “for the time” to retire.

You would think that by the “time” you do retire time would retire also.  Not so!  Now begins the race against time.

One of goals with this journey is to slow time down, become more laid back, forget about “time”.  What’s the rush?  Well our intentions were good and you know the road to hell is paved …………

Our first mini leg of the journey has been to the north end of Vancouver Island and that has been based entirely on time.  The old tide/current time.  No getting away from it.  If you want to make good time then you must go with the flow, the current that is.

On July 4th we were raring and ready to leave Campbell River, had it all figured out.  Looked at the Chart Plotter (electronic navigational device) and yep it was there in black and white, leave the next morning.  Up at the crack of dawn, ride over to have breakfast at Banner’s, which by the way is a wonderful place. Excellent food, plenty of it but the best part – nothing but 60’s music is played in the back ground.  Love it!  I was only 13 in 1969 and remember the music well.  Will miss that place.

As we arrive back at the boat, the Captain said this isn’t making any sense, meaning the level of the tide.  Back to the Chart Plotter.  This is when we finally discover that the times indicated for tide/current is way out.  Head scratching/hair pulling session begins.

Time out.

The Charter Plotter had not been configured for time.  But not the usual/normal time.  It had to be configured for UTC time, also known as Greenwich Mean Time.  The Plotter thickens!  Now it must be configured for a positive or negative UTC time, for example where we live it is -7 UTC hours.

It is interesting how we have become so accustom to our devices providing us the correct “time” no matter where we are.  Own a computer? Apple or Android phone – they don’t ask us for UTC time!  Start them up and the correct time appears.

Fortunately, I remembered with all the reading I had done over the last six months that our UTC time would be on the negative side but by how much?  Hello Siri?

We still need to depend on time as we go along, as we have a couple of deadlines to meet but from now on not so much.

Good night, it is bedtime.


The little things.

July 4th – We arrived in Campbell River on the 2nd and have stayed due to strong northerly winds. Not much fun bashing into the wind hour after hour, besides we have plenty of time.

Amazing what we take for granted each day. Take water for example. Turn the tap on, plenty of it and clean.  Prior to leaving I had filled four, 4L jugs with water and put them into the freezer. No point using battery power for the boat fridge when I could have frozen containers sitting nicely at the bottom.  The ice jugs usually keep everything cold for about two days.

On day two as we were heading toward Savory Island I found no water was available from the tap.  Something must be wrong with the system! Well not so much, as it turned out (after much investigation and tearing things apart – mainly hair!) the water tanks were not as full as was thought and we had now used the very last drop of water.

We might have a boat load of electronic gizmos that possibly could communicate with Chris Hadfield (if he were still on the international space station) but not one drop of water from three onboard water tanks. Now this certainly would have been a bit of a sticky wicket had it not been for the frozen water jugs which by now were half melted. How fortunate we were – still close to numerous ports to put in at, it would have been quite a different situation otherwise.


By July 3rd we were still in Campbell River and cycling at every opportunity.  Shall we go for breakfast? Sure! and outcome the bikes. How about an ice cream?  We need some elastic bands, another coffee,coat hooks, a new clock, how about going to a movie and a TOILET.

Ah yes, the little things in life. Who would ever admit to being the proud owner of a new toilet. I would!  The other one looked ancient and with all ancient things became sluggish, slow and did what it wanted to.  The Captain said it was supposed to be one of the better/easier ones to fix. Well easy to fix it may be but not so easy to obtain the necessary parts.  Would be an excellent anchor for without a doubt it weighed in at a good 50 pounds!

Out with the old and in with the new is my motto.

Captain not included.



We are going Where?

We purchased the Good Rain a Pearson 365 Ketch October 2016 with the possible thought of taking her further than both of us had been before.

By January of 2017 it started to become more of a reality.

The Captain began talking of sailing to the South Pacific and on to New Zealand!

So began a whirl wind of activity.

We attended Blue Water Cruising seminars, signed up for courses, asked questions, bought books and began the research. Each day we were planning, buying, installing or building something.


We bought a well rigged sail boat but that was only the beginning.  The real LIST began and so did the work. Luckily the Captain, a.k.a. McGyver, was able to perform many incredible feats installing equipment while kneeling, horizontal, vertical, in pretzel mode, at times dangling with both feet in the air or his entire body atop one of two masts, sometimes what looked like both masts at once!

The LIST had a life of its own:  new storm sail/rigging, SSB radio, VHF portable radio, chart plotter, dingy and wheels and motor, kayaks (inflatable), winches, Hydrovane, Jorden Series drogue, propane tanks, toilet, sat phone, inreach communicator, eperb, PFD, laptop, printer, jack lines, more lines and extra rigging, plus many other smaller but also necessary items.

Then there was the provisioning.  The food saver is my friend! I vacuum packed everything I could lay my hands on! I even vacuum packed items in the “ditch” bag, the Captain laughed at that but then expressed that was not such a bad idea. Maybe you should do that to the tools as well.  Hmmm…….yes that is a good idea but if you could see the buckets of tools you too would somehow “forget” to vacuum. I did place many items in zip lock bags, as I learned from last year, the salt air and dampness destroys.

Then there was the planning.  I now have a 3″ binder stuffed with info for each leg of the journey: USA, Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, French Polynesia, New Zealand.  Entry procedures are all-consuming and quite detailed.  Maybe I should put together a booklet in my spare time. Hmmmm……..

Then there was the clearing out the entire house in order for our tenants to move in. Items had to be sold, items had to be put into storage, sometimes Captain should have been put into storage and vice versa but we did it.

There there was the good-bye which really has not felt like a good bye at all as we are first sailing around Vancouver Island and over to the Queen Charlotte Islands before leaving Canadian waters.  It has been teary for me as I think about my son, the island where I have lived for over 20 years, family and friends.  No looking back. Onward.

There have been many, many learning curves for myself as well as the Captain. I believe we basically enjoy that aspect for good or bad, happy or screaming mad.

Sail Away, Sail Away.